Conjugated linoleic acid, abbreviated as CLA, is considered by the University of Michigan Health System to be a healthy form of fat that is predominantly found in food products such as dairy, poultry, eggs and corn oil. Conjugated linoleic acid is also available as a dietary supplement. Studies conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Scandinavian Clinical Research and others have reported that CLA consumption has a positive effect on weight loss. Since the ideal dosage recommended for adult women is unclear, consult with your healthcare provider before relying on CLA supplements for weight loss.
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Using CLA for Weight Loss
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison discovered that CLA had fat-burning qualities that were especially active during periods of sleep. The study, which was published in the September 2007 edition of "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition," found that overweight participants consuming 4 g of CLA daily over a six-month period experienced increases in energy expenditure, especially during sleep. The study concluded that adequate CLA intake promotes fat loss by utilizing fat rather than carbohydrates for energy. The April 2005 "Journal of Nutrition" included a study, conducted by Scandinavian Clinical Research, in which men and women consumed 3.4 g of CLA over a 12-month period. Upon completion of the 12-month test period, individuals exhibited a greater reduction in body fat composition in comparison to those consuming an olive oil-enhanced placebo.
Consumption of CLA provides additional benefits outside of weight loss. The benefits include prevention against several types of cancers, such as breast, colon and lung cancers. The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center reports that an adequate intake of CLA may also help to stabilize cholesterol levels. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center states that CLA supplements may help to treat medical complications such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome or allergic rhinitis. While much speculation surrounds the health benefits associated with CLA consumption, research on the matter remains inconclusive.
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center warns that CLA supplements may potentially interfere with insulin sensitivities and put you at increased risk for cardiovascular disease. Also, CLA supplementation is unsafe for lactating women, as it has the potential to alter the composition of breast milk. Furthermore, CLA supplementation may upset the gastrointestinal tract and increase potassium levels, which are problematic if you have medical complications arising from high potassium levels, such as kidney disease.
While the ideal dosage for CLA supplementation is unknown, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center suggests an intake of 3 to 5 g of CLA daily for effective weight loss. However, this amount may vary from individual to individual, so consult with your medical professional before incorporating CLA supplements into your dietary lifestyle.
- "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition"; Conjugated Linoleic Acid Supplementation Alters the 6-mo Change in Fat Oxidation During Sleep; Rachel N. Close, et al.; September 2007
- "The Journal of Nutrition"; Supplementation with Conjugated Linoleic Acid for 24 Months is Well Tolerated By and Reduces Body Fat Mass in Healthy, Overweight Humans; J.M. Gaullier, et al.; April 2005
- University of Pittsburg Medical Center; Conjugated Linoleic Acid; February 2011
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; Conjugated Linoleic Acid; May 2011
- University of Michigan Health System; Conjugated Linoleic Acid for Weight Control; December 2009